Happy Spring! New Projects

Happy spring! 82 degrees on the last day of winter…whaaatt?! A harbinger of a hot summer, I’m afraid.

It’s time to plan projects for the next few months. And we have monkey wrenches already.

We had two major goals for this year: a bucket list vacation to celebrate our 25th anniversary, and addressing the retaining wall on the south side of the garage. Weeelll, wouldn’t you know it?

During a ROUTINE ANNUAL EXAM, a tumor was found, in my abdomen, which required major surgery to remove. I cannot stress enough the value of such exams. It had been two and a half years since I’d been to the doctor, and this thing developed during that time, with no symptoms! Sometimes we think since we’re feeling fine, our bodies are fine. But things happen when you don’t even know it, and the doctors’ jobs are to be aware and find these things while they can still be taken care of. It was ultimately benign, I thank God, but the size of a large, unripe pear. It and the obsolete organ it invaded were removed. There will be a scar, a very large scar. Which no one but my husband and me will see. I’m okay with that.

Without getting political, I have a pre-ACA health insurance policy, with excellent coverage, and my out of pocket cost will be quite manageable, although a big part of our savings. I know the dollar amount, and we are just waiting for the bills to roll in. I’m keeping track of the EOBs online. I have several weeks of recovery ahead of me, doing quite well, thank you. I am trying to learn to “be still.” I have more time to plan, less time to work, and less funds. Challenge accepted!

First of all, we’ve scratched the retaining wall project. My spidey sense is telling me it will cost much more than my marked up estimate. (I usually add 15% to what early research indicates.) While this does need to be done, there are also neighbor factors involved (they have their own issues this year), and more thoughtful planning required (electric supply lines run through the area). This is not something I want to tackle this year, especially since it would take several months from first calls to completion, and be angst-ridden the whole time.

My health issue brought to mind that our self-promised vacation should be a priority for us right now. Since we’ve already saved for it, even with the medical bills, we’re going for it. We may revise our itinerary a bit, but we’ve decided to go.

Meanwhile, the funds will grow for the retaining wall project, while this year we focus on more mundane and less costly maintenance. I will be using service professionals for most, if not all, of my projects this year. My body needs to heal, and the projects are very specific. Plus, I don’t have the equipment. Landscaping will probably not be a big thing this year, except for general cleanup. I’m still developing the list, and hope to get started implementing right after Easter. I’ll be back to share that.

What projects are you planning this year? How have financial surprises changed your list?

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Money Makeover – A Year of Savings

Like many of you, we had high hopes of saving last year.  We decided to address budgeting a little differently, and resolved to stick with it.

Last year was an unusual year for us.  But financially, it ended up pretty good.  Despite the emergency travel, and the emergency kitchen appliances, we were able to save more than we have in many years.

Changes in emergency fund accounts helped a little, mostly in our outlook on the process.  And when that happens, the excitement starts, and, well, the situation just gets better.

While our savings increased, our giving increased substantially, as well.  Wait, reverse that.  I really believe that because we gave 10% off the top, we were blessed in many ways.  I realize many people find that counterintuitive, but trust me, it is a phenomenon that actually occurs.  Giving, joyfully, unquestioningly, the first fruits of income, provides a trust and a peace that things will all work out.  And, lo and behold, they sure do.  It’s an attitude thing.

Our spending went down.  At least my spending went down.  I’m very okay with that.  We’re comfortable with less.  Really.  Maybe we’re just too busy to dwell on things that don’t matter, on things.  Maybe we’ve retrained ourselves to not want.  Maybe it’s a combination of things.  Whatever, we’re good.  I’m more focused on decluttering and getting things out of the house, than on accumulating.  I’m more focused on cleaning up and using what I have (sometimes in new ways), than on getting something new.  It’s working for us.

This year, I have savings goals, and plans to get there.  Oh, yes, there will be projects!  Projects on the house, and travel to Arlington.  Amid it all, we will be saving.  If my calculations are even in the ballpark, we’ll have an excellent year, financially speaking.

How did you do last year?

What are your plans for this year?